The question being asked of Jesus in this passage may well be something that crosses all our minds at various stages of life. It can be the torment of devout people when they come face to face with their mortality through serious illness and approaching death. The question of “have I been good enough?” can play over and over in people’s minds born of a formation of fear from the hellfire and brimstone days.
In this passage, as usual, Jesus did not give a direct answer to the question but challenged the enquirer to do a bit of their own thinking and reflecting, as we must do. What was he saying to them, and what is he saying to us if we are asking this same question in some form or another? We know that God wants everyone to be saved (Timothy 2:4) and that we are saved through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus (Romans 1:1-7), not by any achievement of our own. However, this passage still presents a catch in that the one thing over which God has no control is our human freedom.
Considering what being saved actually means is worthy of thought. St Paul unpacks this term of being saved, or salvation, as the complete and total transformation of spirit, soul and mind to be as one with Jesus. This can only happen by Grace and our human cooperation with Grace. We cannot will to be in total union with Jesus by our own efforts.
There is commentary on “I do not know where you come from”(v 25) that Jesus is actually talking about a person’s way of life, choices and world view and the exercise of human freedom. Jesus can only accommodate the way of agape love. While God wants everyone to be saved, do some people exclude themselves from eternal life by rejection of Jesus in not seeking to live this way of love?
The Church has never condemned anyone to hell, or complete separation from God for eternity, and neither should we! One person being crucified next to Jesus insulted him (Luke 23:39), whilst the other turned to Jesus and said “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom” and Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” (v42-43).
A reflection in answer to the question of who will be saved- simply turn to Jesus.